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Chamber and committees

Question ref. S5W-21656
Asked by: John Mason, Glasgow Shettleston, Scottish National Party
Date lodged: 13 February 2019

Question

To ask the Scottish Government what consideration has been given to including provisions in the Planning (Scotland) Bill to ensure that new (a) housing developments are built with future-proofed broadband connections, and (b) home buyers have a choice in broadband networks when moving into a new housing development.

Current status: Answered by Kevin Stewart on 5 March 2019


Answer

Through the Reaching 100% Programme, the Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that each and every premises in Scotland has access to superfast broadband. We would, however, expect new housing developments to be served commercially without the need for public funding and through effective partnership working between planning authorities, developers and telecoms companies, for example, Openreach routinely offers fibre to the premises (FTTP) – for free – on developments of at least 30 properties, with a tariff proposal for smaller developments.

Whilst the Scottish Government is not considering such a requirement in the Planning (Scotland) Bill, where powers are available to us we have already taken action to facilitate improved investment in digital infrastructure. This includes setting out planning policy in relation to telecoms in both Scottish Planning policy (paragraphs 292-300) and in the National Planning Framework (chapter 5).

From January 2017, amendments to the Building (Scotland) Regulations 2004 set a standard for in-building physical infrastructure for high-speed electronic communications networks. This enables easier installation of fibre at any time (on or after completion) and applies to new homes and other buildings.

Telecoms is, however, reserved to the UK Government and, as such, they have recently consulted on introducing new legislation to address issues with new build developments. The Scottish Government will look to ensure Scottish interests are reflected in the development of any legislation, and to understand the implications for any devolved areas.